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Daily Archives: March 4, 2010

The second in a three part series on tipping from Fredric Koeppel

From The Memphis Daily News:

Waiters: Will Hustle for Tips, Not Minimum Wage

By FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series about tipping in local restaurants.

Chefs may be celebrities, restaurant owners may be renowned, but waiters are the most visible component of the restaurant dining experience.

In return for being the personalities with the most customer interaction, waiters receive $2.13 an hour plus tips, an “extra” sum they must often share with such backstage employees as food runners, bussers and service bartenders, or that they pool with the tips of other waiters.

Can an often arduous job be worth the effort and the pay, especially when tipping can be erratic or uncertain?

“A lot of making enough to live depends on the restaurant and the economy,” said Setoko Ishii-Ellis, 34, who has been a waiter for about 10 years. She started at Sekisui Midtown and then went to Sekisui Pacific Rim (SPR), Koto, Bari and Wally Joe. Now she works at SPR and Erling Jensen: The Restaurant. “Right now, with the economy, business is hurting.”

As for pooling tips, “to me it doesn’t matter,” Ishii-Ellis said. “Sometimes you get lucky. It goes back and forth and ends up being about the same. If you hustle more than other people, then pooling tips can hurt, but most restaurants assign sections in sequence, so you don’t always have the same section. So some nights are better than others, and some nights when you pool you help each other.

Read the rest of the article here: